Deuteronomy 23

Laws About Community Life

Deuteronomy 23:1-25

23:1-8
These verses deal with the matter of admission into the “assembly of the Lord.” John D.W. Watts defines the “assembly of the Lord” as “the official gathering of qualified citizens for purposes of annual religious feasts, war, or the determination of justice involving tribes … Only men participated in the assembly.” Those not allowed into the “assembly of the Lord” were men whose reproductive organs had been mutilated (23:1), men of illegitimate birth (23:2), and Ammonites and Moabites (23:3-6). The third generations of both Edomites and Egyptians could be allowed into the “assembly of the Lord.”

23:9-14
These verses deal with laws concerning cleanliness in military camps. God was concerned about the personal hygiene of the soldiers. Provision was to be made for toilet facilities outside the camp.

23:15-16
These verses express a concern for runaway slaves from other countries. The law made provision for their protection. The reason for this was perhaps because the Israelites themselves had once been slaves in Egypt.

23:17-18
These verses discuss two laws related to prostitution. First, young women and men were prohibited from engaging in cult prostitution, a common pagan practice. Second, those who earned money through prostitution could not offer that money in the house of the Lord.

23:19-20
These verses prohibit loaning money to a fellow Israelite with interest but allow it in the case of loans to foreigners. Those who had financial means were not to take advantage of their brothers.

23:21-23
These verses deal with the matter of making vows. Notice the following considerations. First, God holds men accountable for the vows they make (23:21, 23). Second, it is permissible to refrain from making vows (23:22). Read also Ecclesiastes 5:4-5.

23:24-25
These laws make provision for travelers to refresh themselves in their neighbor’s vineyards or grain-fields. They could stop and eat but not carry anything away.

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